external HD + PC to Mac - format?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by dcx3, May 17, 2009.

  1. dcx3 macrumors member

    Jul 1, 2008
    I have read about formatting and still unclear. A search did not pull up any results - though I know they're out there.

    I want to buy an external HD (not sure if Portable or Desktop kind is better). I have a desktop PC and an Apple iBook and soon to be MBP.

    I would like to take files from both the iBook and the PC and be able to see them on the new MBP - but I realize there is some format issues?

    The MBP will be my primary computer.

    Is there a way to just use the external drive like you can a flash drive in the sense that I can plug the flash drive into any computer and still read the files.

    Sorry for this post as I realize it's most likely been posted before. - is there a better search and the forums search?
  2. techie4life macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2007
    I had the same problem, but I solved it by opening up Disk Utility with the external drive plugged in and "Erasing" the drive using "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" Now I can use the drive with my iMac and Xbox 360, so I'm sure it would work with a Windows PC.
  3. dolphin842 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2004
    I'm not sure about the 360, but a Windows PC will *not* be able to read or write to a drive formatted as Mac OS Extended (also known as HFS+), unless it has special software that usually costs money.

    If you will be dealing with individual files smaller than 4GB, format the drive as "MS-DOS (FAT)" in Disk Utility. If you need to work with larger files, have Windows format the disk as NTFS, and install MacFUSE/NTFS-3G on your Mac to enable NTFS read/write support.
  4. techie4life macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2007
    Thanks for clearing that up. I've been wondering about that for awhile now.

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